This Is The Most Nerve-Racking (Yet Exhilarating) Thing You Can Do In Dublin

By seank

April 26, 2017 at 3:34pm

This Is The Most Nerve-Racking (Yet Exhilarating) Thing You Can Do In Dublin

As I stared at a large metal pod standing atop hydraulic stilts being badly shaken, I began to question the wisdom of agreeing to this.

I was at the Simtech Aviation at Dublin Airport Logistics Park and I wanted to try their flight simulator, but I really didn't fancy getting thrown around like a rag doll on my first go. 

Thankfully, the machine which I'd been eyeing up, which was simulating turbulence, was not meant for me.

Much to my relief.

The Pilot Careers Live exhibition took place in Croke Park in March, helping would-be aviators learn about future career paths, which inspired me to get a taste of what being a pilot involves. 

Also, I've always wanted to know how exactly you land a plane.

Upon arriving at the Simtech Aviation I was met by a flight instructor who guided me into an enormous, high-ceilinged room which housed the company's various simulators corresponding to different makes of airplane. 

A lot of pilot training takes place here, simulating various types of adverse conditions in order to maintain skill levels, covering procedures surrounding the likes of turbulence, fire and smoke, and security.


Members of the public can use the simulator too, which is how I ended up in a replica of a generic single aisle twin jet cockpit. 

Sessions here last an hour and they include 30 minutes of briefing before 30 minutes of simulator flight. Now a full half of your session being devoted to talking might seem like a waste of time, but you're going to need it.

Once you plant yourself in the pilot's seat, it's intimidating to be confronted with the sheer amount of instruments in front of you, what with all those buttons, gauges, throttles, and counter-intuitive displays. 

I suddenly felt like I should've taken a beginner's course before the simulation.

This is when your instructor will brief you in on what displays you need to be concentrating on, what degree the plane's nose should be at for takeoff, how to stay level, how to turn while maintaining altitude.

You'll know you're doing something wrong when little alarms start going off, setting your nerves on edge like a game of Operation.

The flight is punctuated with moments of calm where you can appreciate the realistic scenery of Dublin and its surrounding areas projected on the screens in front of you; we flew over virtual Dun Laoghaire before turning back to virtual Dublin Airport.

Then comes the most difficult part, the bit that I was most curious about to begin with: the landing. 

Words like localiser and glidescope were thrown at me while I was trying to get to grips with the situation, but all I know is I was at panic stations as soon as we started to descend.

I managed to land our simulated plane in the end and slammed on the brakes, but it wasn't exactly the smoothest... I ended up skidding off the runway onto the grass.

If this was Ryanair, there'd be no trumpets for me.

Back to reality

When it's all over you feel exhausted because that hour requires a hell of a lot of concentration.

I walked away from the experience with that jelly-legged feeling you get after a strenuous driving lesson, but still felt a high of achievement. 

After you finish you're shown your flight path on a graph to see how exactly you fared. As I expected, my graph was pretty smooth until we were on the home stretch and it all went a bit wonky.

Members of the public can use this simulator from 6-9pm, but it'll cost you €130 for an hour-long session.

I found it to be a thrilling if nail-biting experience, and I now know that if I ever end up in a movie scenario where I have to land a plane by myself, at least I'd have a fighting chance. 

Just don't expect me to finish on the runway.

READ NEXT: Stressed? This Is The Best And Most Unusual Way To Relax In Dublin


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